Merry Christmas!

This is the most different Christmas I've ever had, but it's not bad. I slept in an extra hour (believe me, that makes a HUGE difference), came in to work and called my parents while opening the gifts they sent (it was 1am there).... I got a really soft, cranberry-colored robe and some nice slipper (I really needed those b/c my house is freezing). Then I read through my emails... it's a slow, rainy day, but it's nice.

The BEST news?!! My boss got me my 4-day R&R (rest and relaxation) trip to Qatar, and I leave tomorrow!!! He said I need the rest, and that if he didn't send me, I'd probably kill him next month when we're really busy with the Iraqi National Elections... he also said that if I do go, he won't feel so bad when he keeps me late every day in January. I am so excited! My first day off since I got here (if you don't count when I was sick)... Also, my best friend from college is down there, who I can't wait to see. I promise to take tons of pictures and post them when I get back.

Merry Christmas (again) and Happy New Year!
~ amber dawn


Well, the LAST entry generated a lot of comments. No need to say more, except that yesterday and today were a little better. I got some sleep, which helped tremendously, and some of the officers and I fixed some of the problems that were going on over here. Things aren't perfect (are they ever), but we found some ways to lighten the mood a bit.

I got a box with Christmas cards from a middle school in Littleton, Colorado... they were beautiful, so we put them up on the marble wall in our office. It's really nice to get letters from kids about their lives, their pets and family, their hobbies and sports... not only is it nostalgic to get a card made out of construction paper and glue-stick, but their stories and comments are so pure and heartfelt. (Not to mention a little funny at times.)

Have a good holiday, if I don't write back before Christmas!


my morale today is the size of a flea, and about as resistant to being stepped on. i was talking to a fellow officer of the same rank today about life over here. he's one of those "have faith in the system" guys who isn't cynical and gladly accepts, sacrificially, whatever is dished out to him - and expects everyone to do the same. i told him of some of the things that go on in our work place (morale issues, work load, general lack of leadership, guidance and common sense) and he essentially told me to suck it up and that "all of this is bigger than you and me." (of course i immediately translated that into: you are being selfish) then he said, "we are feeding the machine." and i replied, "yes, it's a factory...they use us up and spit us out when we're depleted." he told me that i had a pessimistic attitude, and i agreed, saying i hadn't always been this way. i had to get away from him as soon as possible because the anger i felt was rising up into my eyes and i didn't want to embarrass myself. he already thinks i'm a slacker b/c i yell out when things don't make sense. i guess i'll just have to suck it up, because in this war, "the play must go on."

my morning was great, by the way. i woke up and came to work, and as usual on a Sunday no one else was here (the rest of my team, save one, is under different leadership and gets the whole day off). discouraged, tired, and demoralized, i sat there reading my emails and trying my darndest to actually work through my bad attitude. i felt like my spirit was getting sucked out of me, and the more that happened, the heavier i felt. i'm losing it. i just know that if i don't get out of this attitude problem i have (which would probably take, oh, maybe a day off from this insanity?!), some day soon someone will say something that makes absolutely no sense, and instead of saying, "yes sir" i'll end up getting myself in trouble. i've lost the ability to hold it all in and just deal with it, and i'm sad to say it's probably making me look like i have a weak character.

miraculously enough, the brief i was supposed to give today to Gen Casey was cancelled (AGAIN), and so i WILL get my 6 hours off this week. imagine that. i am going to bed now, and i hope not to wake up until morning, so i can try out a new week with a more refreshed attitude. i hate being negative, but i feel like i'm falling down a spiral...

oh, get this: accountability issues, again. this morning, three of us (the others are in a different team from me, but under the same rules/commander) were here and five were taking the morning off and working the afternoon (a special privilege, and not a "right" we're told). the Sergeant Major over at Victory called asking where everyone was, and we told him that those who were supposed to be here were here, and the rest were probably at home sleeping in. he said he wanted visual accountability for EVERYONE by 0800 even on their off times (he can't wait until 1400 when everyone is here). there is just never an end to this insanity!


We had a gift exchange at work, and one of my friends came as Sadr Claus... Muqtada al-Sadr is a Shi'a personality in Najaf.


this is likely only funny for those who've been to Iraq, but i just had to put this out for public perview.... i picked only the best ones, and most of them apply to myself, which is scary...

You know you've been in Iraq too long when...
~ mortars land near your compound and you roll over in bed and think, "still way off, i've got another five minutes."
~ you actually volunteer for convoy security duty because you still haven't seen the country yet
~ driving around in SUVs with weapons pointing out the windows and forcing cars off the road seems normal to you
~ you see celebratory fire going over the compound at night and think, "wow, the tracer colors are so pretty" and want to fire back
~ you forgot there are colors other than brown that can be found in places other than PowerPoint slides
~ when you go on R&R, you duct tape your child to the roof of your car, hand him a pellet rifle, and assign him a sector of fire for the ride to "Olive Garden"
~ when 12 hours is a short work day
~ when, during a brief, "DIV asked MNSTC-I for the FRAGO that MNC-I was supposed to publish, but couldn't because MNF-I hadn't weighed in, since they were too inundated with MOD and MOI war-gaming the JCCs within the ISF to square us away!" is a valid comment and generates no questions
~ when you start using words like "G'day mate," "Cheers," and "bloody 'ell" as part of your normal vocabulary
~ when the trailer next to you catches on fire and instead of helping to put it out you grab a bag of marshmallows and start roasting
~ when you step into any office and there are 6 Colonels, 12 Lt Colonels, 15 Majors, and 8 Captains supervising the work of one NCO
~ when the weapon buy-back program has become so successful that you've issued the same AK47 to the Iraqi Army 3 times
~ when you cant tell the difference between the sound of an exploding car and an exploding mortar
~ when on R&R you go to Church and wonder why no one is wearing body armor or carrying an automatic weapon to the service
~ you know that you need to run inside immediately after any win of an Iraqi sports team to keep from being hit with celebratory fire
~ you decide that for shits and grins - "lets take a run around Lost Lake at Camp Victory to see if we can get shot at by the sniper"
~ you never worry about oversleeping because if the morning prayer calls don't wake you, the 0430 rocket attack will
~ you decide it's a better course of action to pull your blankets over your head than put on your body armor during an attack -- the woobee will save you and at least you're comfortable
~ a rocket attack isn't a big deal until the crater it leaves is big enough to trip over in the dark on the way to the latrine
~ you go to a social gathering and intermittent gunfire doesn't cause a pause in the conversation


The Twelve Days of Iraqristmas

On the _____ day of Iraqristmas, my Imam gave to me:
...the keys to a VBIED
...two foreign fighters
...three RPGs
...four new wives
...five golden Mosques
...six hostile sermons
...seven threatening flyers
...eight rusty AKs
...nine flaming fatwas
...ten pounds of C-4
...eleven men with small arms
...and twelve billion dinar!!!


I guess fixing my image/sidebar problem will have to wait a few days. *sigh* I'm not the computer geek i should be, apparently.

Today i spent most of the time staring at my computer screen, trying to figure out what was the point of the project i was working on. that must happen to other people as well, right? i wanted so badly to go back to my bed and sleep it all away...

i got an email yesterday with the "12 Days of Iraqristmas." It's great.... i'll have to put it on here sometime.

too bad i have nothing signifitant to report today... Camp Slayer was rather quiet today, at least where i was at. oh, i ran both last night and this morning, like an idiot. i think that's the only exciting thing that has happened. that, and we're watching White Christmas tonight after work. finally, something to look forward to.

it doesn't really feel like Christmas here. i'm not complaining about it though. because the work mood hasn't changed, and we aren't inundated with Christmas commercialism, and we don't have any Christmas parties, i just kind of forget that it's December. it's not bad - by forgetting, i don't feel as if i'm missing out on the holiday. as we say here, "there's always next year." next year, i plan on being somewhere snowy, with lots of mountains to snowboard on and egg nog and spiced cider and Dad's baklava. (he's sending me a box of his made-from-scratch baklava!) too bad i am not getting the traditional Matthews' family made-from-scratch ravioli Christmas dinner (don't ask, i know it's weird, but it's good, trust me).

the head boss here told me i look like Greta Scacci. i looked her up and sort of disagree. so now i've been told i look like her, Kate Winslet, and ... the girl from Sex in the City, what's her name... oh, Kim Cattrall. what a mix. i still don't see it.

well, off to dinner. it's steak night! (funny thing... we have guys from India cooking our food, and they don't do so well sometimes, but they try. on Curry Night, it's awesome. the steaks...they cook them after lunch and then re-heat them for dinner, but when it's all you got...)


this morning was chilly, but i'm adjusting to the temperature. it's still not as cold as St. Louis was when i lived there. every day, the weather is cooler and clearer (the skies are a cold, deep blue).

saturday night was "salsa night." i went to take lessons and ended up dancing until 11 (i left early because i had to be at work the next morning). dancing and twirling around, i nearly forgot i was in Baghdad. funny thing about being over here: if you're a woman, you're the center of attention, no matter what you look like. so, i hadn't even taken my coat off completely when someone asked me to dance.... and he was wearing his 9mm pistol the entire time (which i found somewhat entertaining in itself). ever dance with someone, spinning like a swing dance, while he/she is wearing a pistol? i will have to go back next saturday and do it again, because not only was i exhausted dancing nearly every song, but i had fun and released a ton of stress from work.

yesterday, when i got off work (early, for once), i went to North Victory where they have a small "bazaar" with items from the local population. i had to do some Christmas shopping, of course. i'm sure that if i had been able to get off the base to do the shopping, it would have been cheaper (and suicidal), but they jack the prices up b/c those of us on base don't have any other options. also, there is no such thing as bargaining there. *sigh* and that's the fun part! oh well. i also went by the Rug Shop, where they have real Persian and Turkish rugs for sale at reasonable prices. i am seriously thinking of getting a small one from Qom, Iran. they're pure silk, gorgeous, and as expensive as can be (why, oh why do i only like the best?). i'll have to get a really small one, but it'll last forever. i'll wait until next year to get it...




This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.
Well, yesterday I took some time and wrote at length, and my post didn't save. *sigh* Oh well.

Believe it or not, the Marine General over here thought not wearing the black fleece jackets was rediculous as well -- so they changed the uniform standards for us over here (finally, someone in charge has common sense). I was warm walking to work this morning...

I am searching for ways to put pics on here for you. My words aren't nearly as descriptive as a well-taken photo. I'm going to use the program "flikr."

Well, Merry Christmas and enjoy the season!


Another Sunday, another work day. The morale over at my new workspace is better than where I was before, but the bosses back in Victory don't want any of us to be happy over here... so my personal morale isn't that great. The leadership doesn't care about the individual soldiers at all, it seems. Nearly all the soldiers I speak with talk about when they can get out of the military... and I'm one of them. I can't wait until I can make decisions for myself and not get berated (it's interesting getting corrected by a sergeant when you're a Lt, in front of junior enlisted personnel for a silly rule that shouldn't have been made in the first place). I don't mind following rules, but sometimes I feel like I should take a stand against idiocrocy. Such as... it's cold here now, and the Army issued everyone black fleece jackets. BUT.... we can't wear them with our uniform because there isn't a regulation saying so, unless it's under your blouse (which there's no way it'd fit) or under your gore-tex jacket, which I don't have. So there are lots of soldiers walking around cold. It's just stupid. I could go on and on about the rediculous things that happen over here just because some Sergeant Major needs something to do with his time, but it would just depress me as well as you.

At any rate, I'm glad it's nearly Christmas. Some people got decorations sent from home, and we're going to put them up. Someone put some Christmas music on the shared drive, so I can listen at work while I'm reading reports, and that certainly livens the mood. This Christmas, all I want is a day off.

Well, gotta get back to my desk so someone doesn't think all I do is spend my time on the internet!


Life continues over here.... I've been busy, but not in the frantic, irrational way I was over at Camp Victory. Here, work is the same, but I can set my own pace and even accomplish more. I'm happier here. :) dibriad@isg.mil for those of you who used to email me at my other work email address (like my friend in New Hampshire).

There was an article sent out about Fallujah, by Jack Kelly. He makes some very good points, and although I don't agree with all he says, it's nice to see something other than the negative reporting that been out in the news. His article is titled "Victory in Fallujah:Iraq's Iwo Jima gets scant media respect." If you feel like reading something different than what is published by al-Jazeera or NBC, look it up.

Today I went for my first run in weeks. I was actually able to go during working hours, in the daylight (we're not allowed to run in the dark over here for safety reasons). I ran maybe just a mile, over to Saddam's personal Mosque and back. The entire time, there was water on at least one side of me, and in the slight breeze, the light flickered off the tiny little waves. It made me almost feel as if I were back in San Diego, watching the harbor. The buildings, little marble and cement cottages set up for the Ba'ath Party, dotted the rim of the lakes. There is even a houseboat, but it's nearly sunk. The Victory over America Palace (that was never finished being built) was being worked on, and I could hear the hammering across the silent lake. The run itself wasn't fun because I still have some sort of cold and my endurance is at nil, but it was pretty and nice to be out in the sunshine for a change. It shouldn't be too hard to keep that up.

~ amber dawn


I have successfully moved to Camp Slayer, into a house. There is a huge room partitioned off to make cubicles with beds in them, and my little cubicle-room has a sliding glass door (unopenable) right along the lake. It's beautiful, quaint, and much safer than that tin-can trailer. This morning's walk to breakfast was nostalgic, but I couldn't tell where the nostalgia was coming from -- Bahrain? Japan? At any rate, the temperature was cool and there was a strong breeze coming off the blue-green lakes. It was a peaceful walk, and I even passed a few stray dogs and cats who seemed oblivious to the change this once-Ba'athist resort has undertaken the past few years.

I work in the "Perfume Palace" now. Still don't have indoor plumbing, but that's alright. The palace has an enormous dome, which I work inside of. I must get pictures of it... I can see the palace from my bedroom. :) This is SO MUCH better than Victory. Camp Victory was like a bustling Army extravanza.... and Camp Slayer is like a small town with a little Main Street.

Must start work! ~ Amber


i've been unable to write recently because i've been sick and stuck in my trailer. the doctors didn't know what was wrong with me (weak, dizzy, strange creatinine levels) so they wanted me to go to the CASH (which is like M*A*S*H) at the International Zone. It took me two days to finally get a flight here, during which i was stuck in my trailer. well, the doctors here took some more blood tests and decided i'm fine and "on the way to recovery." it's embarassing that i came all the way here via helo and nothing is wrong with me except that i had an "unknown viral infection." yes, i know, it's a good thing everything is fine now... on paper anyway. i still feel crappy. at least psychologically i know now that i'm not heading into kidney failure again. for the first time in days, i want to eat something... but the chow hall doesn't open until noon, and i'm supposed to catch a bus back to Victory then (they call the busses Rhinos, and they're armored but ugly). so... to answer emails, i'm fine now and should be all well again in a few days to a week (according to the doctor).

while i was waiting to be seen, there was an Iraqi National Guardsman with his foot wrapped up and he was moaning and crying for some pain meds. he didn't speak any English, but after they got a translator, found out he hurt his foot in Fallujah a few days ago. he kept begging for medication, but they couldn't give him any until they figured out what was wrong exactly. i felt bad for him, but he was moaning incredibly and it was just a foot.... the British guy across from me kept his eyes down as did I, mostly, avoiding the Iraqi's attention because there wasn't anything we could do for him. a pitiful case, and it was unnerving.

there are so many banged up soldiers here. i can tell they've been in battle, and several have shrapnel wounds on their legs and their hands bandaged as if they've been in a fire. and here i am, weak and sick but apparently "just fine" wandering the halls hungry and thirsty until my time to make the voyage back to my home base. i am looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow, but i am embarassed that the only explanation i will have of not being able to work the past few days is an "unknown viral infection." the doctor said she'd seen lots of really strange illnesses here. she got to chalk me up for another.

well i'll get off the computer now and let some other wounded/sick use it. i'll go read my book ("Crime and Punishment") and wait out another hour or so until i catch the shuttle to the bus.

it's sad i came all the way to the International Zone and i don't get to see it.


it's been raining. although i enjoy the familiar smell of wet pavement... i do not so much enjoy the mud. it's not just normal mud... it sticks to your boots and piles up and up so suddenly you find yourself two inches taller and walking on rounded soles. it's got the consistency of chocolate pudding mixed with corn starch.

the change in climate is welcomed, though. it suddenly feels, smells, and looks a bit like Fall. or at least a Fall with Palm trees.

i think i am getting addicted to running -- and that's alarming, coming from me.


this past week went by fairly fast. (a good thing)

yesterday was the lunar eclipse. i went outside to watch it for about 1/2 hour as the last sliver of the moon was blanketed in the earth's shadow. one of the girls watching it with me apparently had no concept of astronomy and was shocked when i said the eclipse was because we were between the sun and the moon... she asked, "so the sun is directly behind us then?" it was cute. she was amazed, and maybe she'll pick up an interest in astronomy from now on.

the really neat part of the eclipse was that the mosques started singing loudly, which was both beautiful and eerie. it seems that having a lunar eclipse during Ramadan is a big deal, and if you're a jihadist, it's a great time to pick a fight (guess you get to Paradise quicker or something). we were somewhat expecting mortars or a firefight, but it was relatively quiet. just the moon, and the shadow passing over it... and a few bats, swooping across the orb. (it really did turn into an orb -- no longer the silvery disk, it looked like an orange balloon not too far in the distance.)


I lost a co-worker yesterday in an attack. He was like an uncle to those of us who knew him here. He was just shaving in the shower trailer.... it was very sad, and we miss his gruffy smile. When I went home, sleep was nearly impossible. I kept seeing his face in my mind, and every little sound I heard made my heart race. We all got a sense of reality on Sunday.


Yes... I'm doing fine. Work has just been super busy and I haven't felt like updating this. (Still don't, really.)

Back to running....had to quit rugby due to too many twisted ankles (not that I have more than the usual amount of ankles, but that the pot-holes on the helo pad were dangerous). We run around Lost Lake, which is about a 2 mile loop, and then sometimes add in another loop around the trailer park. It's getting fun (can't believe I just said that). The hard part is waking up at 1700 (that's like 5am for day-shifters). It's definitely interesting though... we run just as the sun is setting, and the Mosques begin calling out prayers for the end of the day (and the start of the Ramadan feasting). It reminds me of the end of "Blackhawk Down" when the guys are running while they're being shot at, and there's Islamic music in the background. (At least, that's how I remember it.) It's very surreal, and sometimes eerie. Especially like tonight, when we could hear shooting just outside the wall (we decided it was US doing the shooting, not THEM). Anyhow, it's a good run. :-)

Gotta get back to work!


Two strange things happened to me tonight.... 1) As I was walking back to my trailer after a (cold) shower, I heard something strange. Waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness of a cloudy, moonless night, I saw something move. It was like a small, long shadow. Eventually I saw it was a fox -- bushy tail, long nose, and staring at me. I froze, and it froze. I moved, and it moved. Having the fox standing there in front of me was a little surreal. I had only seen them in zoos and along highways, scampering into the woods. I walked towards it, but it walked away.
2) I was riding my bike to the MWR to use this computer, holding my little light on the handlebars to keep it from going all over the place... riding in the dark is serious business. Anyway, I suddenly noticed, a little too late, that they were doing construction in the road and had strung one of those plastic "police lines" across -- just as it smacked me in the chest and wrapped around me. I am still amazed I didn't fall off my bike.

Ok -- on Tuesday, I got my first Blackhawk ride (my first helo ride). We went to Tikrit. It was AWESOME! I was sitting in the middle facing backwards, but I was still able to take lots of pictures and see the Iraqi people waving at us excitedly as we flew over them at about 100ft in the air. It looks a lot like Illinois -- flat farmland, with lots of corn. I had no idea Iraq was full of corn... Anyway, the people live in houses that look oddly similar to those found on Christmas cards -- I guess the architecture hasn't changed in thousands of years. We flew over manshions too...there really wasn't anything in between. In Tikrit, I spent the day with the 1st Infantry Division and talked to my cohorts there. The topography there was interesting -- hilly, and the Tigris runs through it, carving a canyon. I saw people washing their cars in the Tigris. Isn't that something? Blown away by it all, and extremely exhausted, I still managed to soak as much of it in... it was the first (and probably only) time I was able to get off this base and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. I'm sorry I'm squashing this all into just one paragraph, but I have to get going now. :)


In the Army, commanders will usually say, "As you were" when letting their soldiers know to go back to what they were doing...
A man was reading from the Bible in church yesterday. He was either nervous or having trouble with his eyes, but several times he fumbled over the verses. Each time, he said, "As you were." I nearly laughed. Leave it to an Army Major to say, "as you were" while reading from the Bible.

I'll try to write more often.

Oh, I finished the first season of Alias yesterday. It is one of the best diversions I've discovered here. Most of the others on my watch floor are obsessed with it.


I'll write more later... I just wrote an incredibly detail, long entry and the internet connection went out and I lost everything. I am very frustrated, so I'm going to leave now.


Apparently we were lucky today. Just before I woke up, the building next to my work-place got hit with a rocket. It hit the building, then bounced off. Fortunately, it was a dud. EOD (Explosive Ordinance Diposal) came and disposed of it, but everyone was locked in the building until it was taken care of. It was about 50 yards from where I work. As you can imagine, when I got to work, the place was a-buzz about the rocket. If the wind had blown a little harder, it would have hit us.

....no need to worry though. :)

I'm just a little concerned about Ramadan. It's going to get worse. I have a feeling we'll be in "battle rattle" again for the most of the time I've got left here (I leave in January).

Well....I'm off to breakfast. At our chow hall, the food is pretty much the same every day. I eat the hard-boiled eggs because I've gotten sick the last few times I ate the omelettes -- you can't go wrong with hard-boiled eggs, I've decided. I was actually surprised at our selections -- fresh fruit every day, yogurt, all the bacon and sausages you could want (which looks disgusting so I don't eat it).... of course, some times we're out. Yesterday, it was salt. Today, it could be the yogurt. It's not that big of a deal -- there are soldiers out in the field that have to ear MREs. Oh, I found out that during April, when the supply routes got cut off, at Abu Ghraib they had to eat MREs for a few weeks -- the prisoners were ensured 2/day, but the soldiers only got 1/day. We had to make sure the prisoners were treated well, because that would be "unforgivable." It astonishes me sometimes how badly people want to make Americans over here look. I assure you, the soldiers (from the lowest ranking to the biggest General) want the people over here to be happy, have security and stability, and finally realize what democracy means. Unfortunately, there are too many "bad guys" who are taking advantage of the situation, and they find it easy to sway the POIs (Pissed Off Iraqis) in their favor. Most of the Iraqis just want a job, a home, food, and safety for their families. They don't want to be out on the roads setting up IEDs, but if their wives are shoving them out the door to "quit being a disgrace and get some money," they'll do it. What would you do, in their situation?

Ok, now I'm really off to breakfast. :-)


I got to work tonight to find out I would be the only one in my "cell" until morning. I was just delighted. Let me explain.... we usually put out a product of pretty good analysis every morning at 0400. It's so well-loved that when our Lt Colonels shut off our product in the interest of other things, the General himself walked down here, looked at us, and said, "The Daily is back up." I'm under the impression the General Officers need our Daily for one of two things: 1, they read it like a morning paper, with coffee in hand, first thing, or 2, they bring it to the bathroom. Either way, we were happy to be producing again. (The two days the Daily was turned off, we felt we had nothing to do, and were completely demoralized.) On Sundays, we do a "weekly" product that is essentially a wrap-up of our past week or some longer entries that weren't submitted earlier.

When I got in here tonight, ready to crank it out, I discovered NO ONE had given me their submissions for the day. That meant I had to do it all alone. (Note: A 1Lt doesn't have to do it all alone when there are Sergeants around who didn't do their job.) I managed to convince in the nicest way possible two Sergeants, and their submissions did help. I had other problems, like my own stupidity -- I shut the piece I was working on down, and erased it, having to start over. (Isn't it great that my greatest frustration in Baghdad tonight was dealing with Microsoft?)

Now it's 0315.... and I find myself done with my work. There's plenty to read, but I am not in the mood for it. I will have to find some way to occupy myself until 0800.

At my work place, there are two unclassified internet machines.... so there's usually a wait to check email, read up on sports (not me), or do research (there's a lot of info out there just in the newspapers). I, of course, back up the line by writing in my blog. :) It's totally worth it. I have to vent somehow.

Most of the senior officers here are either idiots or lazy (there are, admittedly, a few that are great), and I've discovered one of the main problems with this place is its top-heavy nature. There are too many Generals and Colonels about. I'm not even phased by Colonels or Lt Colonels (Navy Captains or Commanders) anymore. "Oh, you're a Major? Whatever, you're just a Major" ... and being a 1Lt is like being, I don't know... a fly on the wall. The benefit there is you can disappear when you want to.


Next year will be better, she said,
kicking the gravel across the road
Next year couldn't be any worse
that's for sure.
She fell over and died.
Next year couldn't come now,
and she was fine with it.
Those that found her body
couldn't see the scarring
or understand why her
soul ran out.

I don't know what to call this...it's not exactly a poem. Oh, and don't think I'm depressed. I was just very angry, happened to have a pen in my hand at the moment, and found an outlet for my anger and frustration -- which works much better than mouthing off in response to stupidity. I wouldn't have apologized or written an explanation, but so many family members are reading this now. I didn't want anyone to think I'd gone crazy. Besides, happy poems are so pase. ;)


Writing so soon again? Yes, I am.

Have any of you ever ridden a bicycle at 2am? Last night was my 1/2 night, and on the way to the MWR, I realized I couldn't remember ever riding at that time before. There aren't any street lights here, but the glow from downtown Baghdad is strong -- the nights are a bit hazy. At 2am, there aren't any humvees or SUVs driving by. Or anyone else, really. With my little headlamp strapped to my handlebars, I rode on, over speedbumps mysteriously sprouting from the pavement (you'd think I'd remember their placement) and holes in the dirt road that led to Bldg 51, MWR. I glanced up at the Pleides constellation, and walked into the building. Once inside, I used the webcam to talk to people back at home (and one in Germany). It's a little surreal, I think. I am always reminded of the movie "Enemy at the Gates," and I think, what would they have done if they had webcams? Useless thoughts, I know. Anyhow, my point is... well you get my point. After the MWR, I went home and watched more episodes of Alias, in the dark (my roommate was sleeping). Then I went to bed when the sun came up. I feel I've joined the race of vampires.

This is it for tonight. My boss is surely questioning why I am on the unclassified machine while there's work to be done. (He's actually very good to work for, and gives me my space -- more importantly, he gives me liberty when I'm writing my assessments. He says they're getting better, which is relieving. Can you imagine wanting to be a writer and then not being able to convey simple assessments well?)


Yes, I know, it's been a while. I started working the night shift and it threw off my sleep schedule so I have been a little too tired to care about updating this. However... the night shift is definitely better. It's quiet, and there aren't many Generals up and about at 2 am asking us questions. I can actually read through all my emails and the traffic, which is unheard of during the day time. The down side to this is that the day time is when others want to do construction work and check on your air conditioner, so it's a little hard to sleep. I think I've slept through, without being woken up, once so far. The other down side is that I missed rugby two times, and from now on I have to wake up earlier to play. The good thing about getting off work at 8am is that it's daylight - so I've been running after work. I go running with two guys (an LT and a Chief, both Navy), and we're aiming to run Monday through Friday. I have to wear my Air Force t-shirts to make sure no one thinks I'm in the Navy, of course. :) I don't think I've ever said this before, but running relaxes me. Too bad I didn't pick up this habit years ago.

It's difficult to find things to say on here because it's always a monologue, and my life doesn't change that much. Most of the things that go on I can't talk about, and the things I can talk about aren't of any real interest to anyone. Every day is Monday. Still, I've hit the two-month mark now, and looking back, it's flown by. Before long, it'll be Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, then Christmas and New Year's, and then I'll be flying home. Although the nights drag by, the weeks are swift.

Well, I've let you all know I'm alive. I'm in pretty good spirits, too. Oh, one thing that has changed that's a big deal in my life is that the doctor thinks I'm "gluten intolerant" and have a disease called Celiac Sprue. He can't test me for it out here, but he said to go ahead and do some research on it, and then when I get back to California, get tested. The big deal about it is that if I do have it, I can't eat anything made from wheat, rye, barley, or oats. Anyway, that means no cookies, bread, pasta -- anything with flour. That means no meat cooked in gravy. I've been sticking to it pretty well the past few days, but it's a little hard to say if I've been successful because who knows how they cook some of the stuff here. I have been feeling better, though. So, although that's not a big deal to you, it's certainly a drastic change. No cookies! (Unless they're made with rice or soy flour.) I guess this will be good for me, after all.

Ok, well I'll get back to work. My shift ends in a little over an hour...
Sorry about this being the most uninteresting entry yet. Maybe something exciting will happen that I can talk about!


Yesterday was my 1/2 day off...and I had intended to use the pool for the first time. However, much to my chagrin, just as I was leaving we found out we had to go to "full battle rattle." (Kevlar helmet and flak vest) The first thing I thought of was the pool. Dismayed, I mentioned, "well, I guess I can't go swimming now." One of the guys in my shop said, "Well, you could, but you'd have to wear your vest and helmet." The image of trying to swim in that gear came to mind, and I laughed, "Yeah, but I wouldn't swim. I'd sink." We have metal plates in our vest, and it adds quite a bit of weight. (You can jump a little higher on your bicycle if you weigh more, I've discovered.) Then I thought of rugby, and playing in that gear. Fortunately, when I showed up for the game, everyone else took their gear off and we "chanced it." I actually think it would have been more dangerous to play IN the gear. Someone would have broken their neck b/c the kevlar helmet is fairly heavy. The rules, however, say we have to run/exercise in full battle rattle.

So, all in all, yesterday was pretty interesting. Once I got back to my room, I was able to change into PT gear (shorts and a t-shirt), but I still had to wear my kevlar and flak vest. I'm sure I looked quite a sight. Before going to rugby, I stopped by the DFAC (dining facility) to pick up a sandwich for dinner. As I was leaving and trying to juggle the helmet and my food, one of the officers that walked by said, "Guess this is what makes Iraq special." I agreed. This is what we get the little bit of extra pay for. The mortar rounds haven't been any worse, but people are worried because everyone knows what is tomorrow (September 11th). The mortars and rockets may increase just a bit. Fortunately, no MNF (multi-national forces) have been killed on my base. We're nestled snugly between Camp Slayer and BIAP (Baghdad International Airport). It's amazing that every time a trailer has been hit, whoever had been in it had just stepped out -- to use the bathroom, go to dinner, or brush their teeth. Sort of makes you think of "divine intervention." I was laying in bed last night, though, thinking of how often I've heard the booms and felt the concussions. I take it for granted, a little, that it won't hit me. This isn't WWI -- THEY got shelled a lot. I try to not think about it and am usually successful, but every once in a while reality kicks in and I have to acknoweldge the fact that I'm not far from those mortars/rockets.

I am SO excited because next Thursday is my first whole day off since I got here. That is, as long as nothing happens between now and then. I haven't slept in yet, and I think that will be VERY nice.

Well, I better get back to work!

~ amber


Now that my life has become rather routine, I've added some new things to it. Last Thursday, on my 1/2 day off, I played Rugby for the first time ever. It was way too much fun. Let me describe what playing Rugby here at Camp Victory is like:

First, as we arrived at the medivac pad, a few cars were lined up. They were waiting for the helicopters to arrive. The few stragglers who showed up early to play sat down on the side, and wait for it all to be over. In the 110+ heat, we watched as four blackhawks landed. Just before each one landed, all the dust and hot wind blew at us, nearly knocking us over (even though we were sitting). The gusts were hot, dry, and stinging. Several people jumped out and walked quickly to the cars parked next to the hel0pad. Within in a few minutes, the blackhawks lifted up again and flew directly over us. I tried taking a picture, but the wind blew the lanyard on my camera in the way, so all I got a picture of was my hand, the lanyard, and part of a helicopter directly above. Once they were all gone, the one Australian stood up and said, "Alright then," and everyone followed. They explained the rules to me, which were deceivingly simple, and we began. I never knew that in Rugby you threw the ball backwards. Anyhow, it was a great work-out. Mostly I just ran back and forth. It's much quicker than American Football, and I have to say, much more interesting. We played until we couldn't see the ball anymore (it got dark quickly). The Australian who had taught me how to play said, "you did bloody well for your first game." I decided then I'd come back. :) I hurried back home to shower.

Once I got ready to take a shower, I was dismayed to find out there wasn't any water. I was ready to slice whoever had let the water run out. I then walked down to the other shower-trailer and got all ready once again to find out the water was out. I had gotten into the habit of showering at night so that I wouldn't have to put my hair up wet in the morning, and this frustrated me. I didn't mind too much, though, because playing a team sport had been so much fun. Oh, I forgot to say it was just touch rugby. I can't imagine playing regular rugby on the tarmac.

I was sore over my entire body for two days. I felt great. Yesterday, they played again. I worked it out with my boss to let me play rugby during my dinner time. My hours had been shifted back to 0800-2000, so at 1815 I rode my bike home quickly and changed, then played until 1920, then went back to my trailer, changed back into my uniform (I was out of breath and very hot by then), and rode back to work as quickly as I could. I worked until 2030, then went home and finally got my shower. At least this time the water was working. I had a great time though, and the same Australian, who's more or less the referee, said, "are you sure the last time was the first time you had ever played?" I said yes. Then he said, "you'll be here on Thursday then?" If they keep making me feel like a prodigy, I'll be playing rugby twice a week until I leave! I'm not that good at all, for sure. I just have a great time. Next time, though, I'll make sure I get a sandwich. I was starving by breakfast time!

Today is Labor Day. I get to serve my country all day at work. Wow. Usually I do something interesting on Labor Day weekend. Not this year!

~ amber


A note from an Englishman written inside a Camp Victory 'sauna' (porta potty):
"No to the Euro. Keep the Pound."

I thought that was funny. Even here in Iraq, someone from England is concerned about their national currency.

I've received a few packages and email from people back at home, etc., and I want to thank you. :) It's always nice to get something, even a card. There are some people at work who don't ever get anything, though, so if you would like to send them something just let me know and I'll give you their names (the address would be the same). I'm still looking into how to get beanie babies to the local children -- I'm not allowed to go out and walk around, but I'm sure someone is.

Looks like the election is stirring up a lot back in the States. I'm kind of glad to be missing it. It all makes me sick, all the bickering and smashing. I have to deal with a lot of that here, with Iraqi politics, too. I just wish I could find the one answer to these peoples' problems. Having the U.S. pull out right away certainly isn't it.

Well... I have some more assessments to write up. Let me know how we're doing in the Olympics. I don't have a lot of time/opportunity to watch. I did laugh yesterday, though, when one of the guys in my shop asked, "Did Lance Armstrong win the Tour de France? Wasn't that this week?" At least he was happy when I told him he did, for his sixth time.

I continue to ride my bike around, and I'm getting better at jumping over the speed-bumps. Have you ever tried riding a pot-hole laden dirt road at night, without much for a flashlight? It's a little scary, and you end up very apprehensive. I changed my shift from 8am-8pm to 7am-7pm so I won't have to do that anymore. Last night was the first time I got home in daylight, and I watched the sunset. It was gorgeous. With the hot, dusty horizon, the sun is blazingly orange as it sets behind palm fronds. The sun rise (I accidentally called it the "sun morning" for some strange reason today when I was very tired) looks almost exactly the same. I took some pictures last night, which I hadn't done in a while.



American perspective can change here in Baghdad:

Last night as Monica and I were leaving the shower trailer, we heard a popping noise. She said, "Oh, look, fireworks!" Up in the sky were red trails of light streaming toward us. It was pretty, but alarming. I asked if they were tracer rounds or flares, and we both started walking as quickly as we could back to our trailer in our wet flip-flops (try running in those). Half-way there, she says, "You know, those are just flares. We send off flares signifying that there's a convoy headed out." Immediately I thought that didn't make sense, since that would let the enemy know a convoy was leaving the Post. I kept running back to the trailer as the red streams of light soared above. When we got to our door, some men from her Company were standing around watching the light show. I asked, "Are those just flares?" They said, "No, those are tracer rounds. You can hear the fire-fight. It's not that far away." I looked at Monica who said sheepishly, "I thought you'd sleep better if you thought they were just flares." We watched, a little concerned, as the tracer rounds increased in number. I commented on
the fact that what goes up must come down... Another person approached and said, "Iraq just beat the Aussies in football." Suddenly it dawned upon us that we weren't watching a firefight but a celebration.

This morning at Church a man stood up to say he wanted to praise the Lord. He held up a bullet and said it came through his trailer last night during the celebratory shooting.

It makes me laugh. Yes, I know this is dangerous, but there's nothing we can really do about it. I'm sure someone is trying to teach the Iraqis the dangers of celebratory shooting, but it's such a long-lived custom in this region and could take a while. I can't worry, I can't get afraid. If I start, I'll never be able to do my job. All we can do here is laugh, albeit nervously.

Today our power went out for nearly an hour, which meant the A/C was cut off. I can't imagine what it must have been like to work in Northern Africa during WWII. The power came back on, work resumed, and "groundhog day" continued. (Every day is the same here.)

As I bought a bike today (my third one this year), I should soon be speeding around the Post and won't have to worry anymore about walking home alone in the dark. :)


My Grandpa Lincoln died the other day from what I think was a heart attack. It's been difficult getting ahold of anyone who knows anything (like my mother). Everyone went to California for the funeral... and I'm very far away in Iraq. I hope, above all, my grandmother makes it alright though this.

Work has been insanely busy. I didn't know I had it in me to work straight through for 13 hours without taking any real breaks. I've taken over phase one editing of the daily product we disseminate every evening, and it can keep me very occupied. Not only do I write my own assessments, but I gather everyone else's, quality check it, and send it on. We have our senior analyst do a sanity check on the actual assessments, of course. (Good thing, since I'm so new here and hardly know my area enough to make insightful assessments.)

I received an email yesterday saying they had given me a trailer, only.... they had given me the title "Major" and had me down as a man. I don't know who thought a person with the first name "Amber" would be male, but there it was. They had me rooming with a male major. I quickly called and found they had realized their mistake, but were still going to give me a trailer. I moved all of my stuff out of my tent and made my way to the trailer. (I was allowed to borrow the car, which helped immensely.) Finally, I met another female 1Lt. Believe it or not, she talks more than I do. I was so relieved to learn she was very open, friendly, and helpful. We talked until it was very late, which made me think of sleep-overs from when I was younger. We occupy 1/3 of a trailer, and each have a twin-size bed, a night stand, and a locker (just like the ones in the hallways of High Schools across America). Not much to store clothing in, but I'll eventually buy a set of drawers. I also will need to get a bike, because work is about a mile away now, at least. Anyways, my living conditions have improved -- with one exception: we're very close to the perimeter of the base now, and right next to the Helo MediVac landing pad. With obvious reason, our trailer shook often throughout the night and morning because of the nearby helicopters and mortar rounds that were hitting no too far away. I didn't care -- I was just too happy to finally have a bed.

They cancelled our days off, until further notice, because we have so much to do. I was upset when I found out, but got used to it. Every day is the same here. At least I'm busy! Sundays are the only days that have a slight break because I get to go to church, and that takes one hour out of my routine. A great hour. I was thinking yesterday how normally I don't want to waste a morning going to church, but here -- I wish we had church every morning.

Wish I had something insightful or meaningful to say, but I don't. My brain leaks out at work, and by this time of day, 5pm, I can barely put thought together. I still have 3 hours of work, too.


I have a some-what funny story: On Tuesday, I got some sleeping pills from the doc b/c I wasn't sleeping well on my cot (plus it's noisy in my tent of 20+ females). I slept very well that night... so well, in fact, I didn't even know four mortar rounds had hit somewhere nearby, waking everyone else up and shaking the tent. The mortars really aren't that frightening because we're all used to them, but are surprising. We had one hit yesterday while I was typing a report at work, shaking our trailer, and it made me jump. Someone exclaimed, "outgoing!" which is the usual remark. Of course we never shoot out mortars, but it makes people feel better. The first thing we do after we hear something like that is see if EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) has scheduled to disarm something at that time (isn't it nice that they let us know?). The only time I get concerned is when the mortars sound far away at first and then get louder and louder. According to what I've heard, though, nobody's been killed by mortars here at Camp Victory. Their aim is horrible, it seems.

People I came here with have finally started receiving mail, so I'm hoping I get packages soon! :)

I have to get back to work... I get hundreds of messages a day I have to read. Sometimes it slows down, and sometimes there's a rush. (Especially if something has happened.) Sorta like working at a restaurant.

I'm getting used to the 110+ heat, which is good. Still, it's not too much fun walking the 3/4mile to lunch and back in the full sun. By the time I get back to work, I've lost so much water!



I have been working SO MUCH the last few days. A 12 hour shift is really a 13 hours shift due to shift changes, etc. I read and read and read and read. By the time work is over, I generally walk home and crawl into my luxurious cot, then pass out. I've been told I get a day off next Thursday, and then the week after it'll be a 1/2 day off, and will rotate like that each week. Thursday seems so far away...

I am really enjoying being here. Work is extremely demanding, and I feel like I won't ever get ahead, but I love it. It's real intel! I'm reading reports and articles, and making assessments (or trying to at this stage). For the last few days I'm just trying to make sense of the chaos in this country. There are so many people I have to know by name, and who they're related to, and where they are.... Since this wasn't the area I studied in college, EVERYTHING is new to me.

Well I have to go. One of the men that works in this computer lab just told me I have to get rid of my water bottle. The sign says no drinks, but everyone knows that water bottles are ok. I can't believe that. It's rediculous. I threw a fit, and now I have to go.

I'll write the next time I have a moment free.


My address here is:

1Lt Amber Brinson

MNF-I (C2)


APO AE 09342

....don't forget to add "USA" at the bottom if it's coming from a foreign country. :)


I was going to put some pics on here, but it's not working.... if anyone wants some, email me. I know it's the tedious way, but that's what happens here on Army posts in Iraq.

I must be getting used to the heat. I'm not saying it's easy walking 100 meters outside at noon, but I don't feel as faint doing it anymore. I'm also getting used to the temperature in our tent. I put a work order in about the a/c not working and was pretty much chided by the maintenance man that "that's just the way it is." At least we finally got the lights to work. Although we had a few, for me to do anything I had to wear my headlamp.

Yesterday we formed up to find out they still hadn't assigned anybody jobs, and were given the days to "take care of things." Maj Dimech, SSgt Johnson, and I went to the Palace to take 'happy shots.' As I had said, it's gorgeous. We walked around everywhere, including around the third floor's balcony. The view was astonishing, and since this area of Iraq is flat, we could see for miles. There was deffinitely a battle fought here because some of the watch towers looked as if hit with 50 cals and grenades, and one of the bridges was pretty much broken apart. We spent about an hour opening little wooden doors (usually access to some sort of climate control system), climbing ladders that led nowhere, and acting like kids on an adventure. It was exciting. The excesses of the Palace really do make one think -- it was built after 1991, obviously with money that was meant to feed the population. The bathrooms really are made of marble, and the ceilings aren't just painted...they're carved, too.

Once we left the Palace and ate lunch, Maj Dimech and I rode the grey line bus to Victory Base North, where the "big" PX is. The bazaar is there, and I had heard they had shoulder harnesses for sale. (I had a suspicious feeling that my web-belt was part of my back problem.) We were told the bazaar pretty much just had cheap trinkets and fake military reproductions. Once we walked in (about two GPMedium tents put together), we were surprised. They had those trinkets, but they also had some very nice copper pots, tea sets, leather-ware, Iraqi currency, and other various items. It sort of reminded me of a souq in Bahrain, on a much smaller scale. They had everything from brass cups to batteries. I did find myself a harness for my M9. They only had two to choose from for lefties, so I picked the cheapest one. It's brown, and much more comfortable than what I was wearing. They also had a photo center set up, not unlike those old western portraits they have all over California, where you dress up in period clothing and get your portrait taken. Maj Dimech said we'll have to do that some time for our co-workers back in the States. After we were done I walked over the the BurgerKing trailer (yes we have BK) to get a milkshake. No milkshakes in Iraq, sorry. Just whoppers and fries, pretty much. Much disappointed, I got some gatorade from the PX and we caught the grey line back to our tents.

This morning we formed up again to find out the jobs weren't sorted out. I walk to the Chapel with another AF Capt. Having church in Iraq was ... different. For one thing, I had never seen so many heavily armed worshippers in my life. Have you ever been to church where everyone had either an M9 pistol or an M-16 rifle? There was an overflow, so we had the doors open and some people sat out on the porch. Since the door was open, it got rather warm in there, and those out on the porch actually got it a little better. I had forgotten my water bottle and was nearly dying by the time communion came around. Because General Order 1 states we will not consume any alchohol while in theater, I assumed it was grape juice. What a surprise. I was was thinking "grape juice, mmm, liquid" and instead it was, "oh my, that's wine" and it felt like straight vodka as it slid down and warmed me up (which I didn't need help with by that point). I walked back to my tent quickly and drank an entire bottle in about two minutes.

At noon we met up in the DFAC (what the Army, for whatever reason, calls the galley, chow hall, or dining facility) and they dispersed our jobs. Some people are working at the prison (yes, the infamous one) and will be moving out that way, some working in the international zone and moving out there (formerly the 'green zone'), and most of us will be working in either the Palace or some trailers nearby. I, unfortunately, don't get to work in the Palace. I don't even know where I'll be, but it's in one of those trailers I just mentioned. I'll be working in the Geo-Political cell. I don't know what I'll be doing, exactly, but I hope it keeps me occupied. I've heard that when you first get there, it's like standing along a river looking at people drowning in the water, and you don't know what to do, then suddenly you fall in and you're one of the drowning. Wonderful. :)

Well it's my time to get off the computer. This was long. Phew!

~ Amber


Camp Victory, Iraq!  Finally.  I left San Diego what, 11 days ago?  Seems a lifetime ago.  I'm not planning on typing much because I am extremely tired, need to shower, and really need to get to bed.  Just letting you know I'm here.  It's almost pretty outside -- such a drastic change from Kuwait, and it doens't seem as hot.  At least, after eating dinner, it was only 95 degrees or so which is quite pleasant compared to the blasting heat at Camp Doha, Kuwait. 

We flew here in a C-130.  We were told they always get fired upon, but if it happened, we didn't hear it.  It was an interesting, although warm and cramped, ride.  Especially when we cirlced in for a landing.  After that, we convoyed to Camp Victory.  The Palace amazed me.  It's beautiful, and right on a lake or river, complete with a boat house.  The streets (if you can call them that) are lined with eucalyptus trees, and the canals (does Kuwait even have canals?) were lined with some sort of reed, maybe papyrus? 

I am in a tent with all females, and I'm the only officer.  So much for the Army reg they gave us at Ft. Bliss about officer and enlisted sharing living quarters being forbidden.  Apparently in 4-6 weeks we might move into some trailers that are supposed to be nicer, and with beds.  Right now I have a cot, and nothing else.  I wish I had a locker or a footlocker.  I am so tired of living out of duffle bags.  Whatever I want is always at the bottom.

Well I'm going back to my not-so-hot tent.  I'm sure I'll freeze tonight and then bake tomorrow.

Email me if you're reading this!  I don't know if anyone is.  ambotchka@yahoo.com

~ Amber Dawn


I am in Kuwait right now.  Either tonight or tomorrow we'll catch a ride on a C-130 and fly to Baghdad, so soon this trip will be over and I'll have a place to put my stuff (hopefully).  It is unbelievably hot here.  I'm sure everyone has said that before, so I'm just reassuring you it's that hot.  Somewhere between standing in front of a hair dryer and getting blasted by an F-16 engine.  Our flight from El Paso was very long.  When we landed in Frankfurt at Rhein Main AB, the terminal was closed for repairs.  We just stood out there on the tarmac for an hour or so.  At first they had us walk up to an area surrounded by barbed wire.  It was for the smokers, although they didn't say that to us non-smokers.  To give you a better idea of what it look liked, think "POW camp."  To top it all off, an AF MSgt (I named her Helga) was pretty much stripping us of our liberties by the minute.  For instance, because it was 52 degrees outside (it was 0600), I wanted to stand in the sunlight, as did most people.  She didn't want us too near the lane of traffic (if you can call the 1-truck-per-ten-minutes traffic), so she pushed us back from it by about 30 feet, into the shade.  She also confiscated a football some of the soldiers were throwing around.  (The yelled after it, "Wilson!")  Then, because so many people were complaining about not having a restroom, or phones, or anything at all out there, she called the German police to keep us from getting rowdy.  One of the Captains called her a traitor. 

After flying to Kuwait, we spent the rest of the evening getting more gear.  We got body armor (the bullet-proof kind) -- yes the troops are getting them now, so be relieved.  We also got another duffel-bag full of gear, like two pairs of boots (very nice ones), underarmor shirts, goggles, and polar fleece outerwear for when it gets cold.  I actually pulled on the fleece at night because it was so cold in the bay.  Getting all of my bags (4 duffel bags at that point, a backpack, armor, and a laptop) to my cot was quite a struggle, and my back is still paying for it, but I made it.  I walked with a Navy Chief to the PX and got some KFC (there's also Starbucks, Hardee's, Pizza Inn, Baskin Robbins, and Subway) because we hadn't eaten in 12 hours and were starved.  Then I went back, took a much-needed shower, and went to sleep.  Until 3 am.  The soldier next to me said, "Ma'am, we have formation at 0700 if you're going to Iraq," after I stirred slightly in my sleep.  I guess he thought I was awake.  I told him, "I think I have enough time..."  I got up, did some laundry, and then slept some more, until 0500.  Most of today I have spent searching down an ice-pack for my back and sleeping.  It hasn't been too bad.  Don't know yet when we'll leave for Baghdad, but it should be soon.


I leave in three days, so I've been running around doing lots of errands. I've had to go to medical, dental, and legal... had to get inserts for my gas mask ... of course, they said, "which gas mask do you use?" Never having used one before, and not having seen which one I'll be issued, I replied with a blank stare. Fortunately, there is a generic set of inserts. They must be so attractive.

Sunday I fly to Ft. Bliss, which is near El Paso -- "car theft capital of the States." I was incredibly motivated and excited to leave for the Gulf two or three weeks ago, but not that the time has actually come, I've suddenly realized what being away for at least 6 months will mean. I'm going to miss a lot here in San Diego. To top it all off, Chewbacc won't understand why I'm not at home. Really, how do you communicate with a dog? Anyway, I am interested in what's going to be my life for the rest of the year. I want to record it all, every instance, every detail. Not only what it looks like there, or what my job is, but how I feel the whole time, and what's on my mind. I will also be working on my writing while I'm there (most of that won't get put on here, so feel relieved). Hopefully, we'll fly there via Germany and have a layover. Maybe it will be longer than the last layover I had in Germany.

Soon lunch will come, and then we'll all get together and have a meeting on the deployment. Then I'll finish up my errands and pack my bags so I can try to enjoy the last few days at home.

~Ciao~ ambotchka@Yahoo.com


It's been years and years since I've written on this site. So much has happened.

Let's not revisit it.

Today I left work around noon to come home and rest. (I have mono, again.) I haven't really done much except tool around online and chat with an old friend. My dog, Chewbacca, has decided (against my many "no"s) that the best place to nap is on my bed, next to me. I don't mind so much, but Jessica, the cat, will when she returns through the window (that's how she goes in and out). I'm debating whether I should nap or not. I have to go out in an hour...

I really wish I had something insightful or artful to stay, but I don't. I'm working on a short story again, a different one. I'm trying out children's lit now. Hopefully I will do well as a writer and will get out of the military in a few years.
Well this was it for my first post in a year and a half. I'll try to do better next time.